Tuesday, 7 December 2021

More Floripa

I wander down to breakfast quite late, a little after 9 AM. 

The offering is almost identical to my last hotel.Scrambled egg, omelette, chopped-up sausages, sold meats, cheese and fruit. One big difference - there's much better cheese. Stuff that actually has some flavour.

What to do today? Let's have a think. I should be able to entertain myself easily enough.

After a frustrating attempt at shaving, I decide a visit to a chemists would be a good idea. To get a razor that actually works. I'm sure I'll find one easily enough. There seemed to plenty of them yesterday. I head downtown.

It's weird that Black Friday is a thing here, too. How long has that been? It makes absolutely no sense anywhere but the USA. Everywhere else, it's just a random Friday.

One thing I did specifically check for was somewhere to buy cachaça for the kids. I found some wine shops a little out of the centre. But I'm a lazy git. I opt for a supermarket with a central location.

I spot a suitable chemist on my way. Soon, I'm the proud owner of some cheap plastic razors. Score. Now for the cachaça. 

The choice is greater than in the small supermarket. Around a dozen or so, at varying prices.Not wanting to be a cheapskate, I splash out 50 and 70 reals (8 and 12 euros). I'm relieved to get that done. I return to my hotel to store away my treasures.

I've decided that I fancy seafood for lunch. A quick search reveals that there a couple of suitable candidates in the central market. Perfect. That's a piece of piss to find. Always important when navigating a city without a map.

Fortunately, it isn't too crowded.

After wandering around a bit, I manage to find the two places I've earmarked. they're next door to each other. And one is closed. That's made my decision easy. Rancho da Ilha it is, then.

While I'm looking at the menu, I order an Eisenbahn American IPA. It's oxidised as hell. But at least the hops cover it up a bit.

I choose the cheapest set meal thing. A heap of carbs, some bits of fish, salad and black beans.

The fish is so overcooked it's rock-like surface is difficult to cut. Who cooks fish like this. I'm reminded of some of the meat dishes at the buffet. I assumed they had turned to leather by being kept warm. Now I suspect they were cooked like that.

Good chips, mind. And there's vinegar. Black beans I'm starting to appreciate. Especially mixed up with rice.I can't really complain. It was under 4 euros.

Bayer Bier is my early evening destination. The one in the centre, around the back of the cathedral. I get there just after it opens at 4 PM.

The original Bayer brewery was founded in 1921 and closed in the 1960s. Descendants reestablished the brand in 2015 and presumably get the beers contract brewed.

Tiny doesn't describe it. Café Belgique is spacious in comparison. One table is half inside, half out.  That one side of a table is the sum of the inside seating. All the rest is outside, some in rather perilous looking spots out in the road. I sit at a tiny high table. (You can see it on the left in the photo above.)

Again, I choose an IPA. This one is far better than the one at lunch. No oxidation. That's a relief. It's slipping down quite nicely.

A good job I'm under cover. It intermittently chucks it down with rain. Alternating with bright sunlight. Sometimes both at the same time. After another couple of  Eepas, as most here seem to call them, I'm ready for some food. They're out of my initial choice and I make do with onion rings. Very nice they are. Not overcooked.

I'm worrying about whether I'll need a Corona test to get back onto Holland. Travelling is so much fun right now.

When the sun starts to set, I call it a day and walk home. The city looks magical in the fading light. The giant murals coming to life.

 The cathedral shimmering gold.


On way walk back, I make a small diversion to the little corner place. Just a sandwich today. Exactly enough to fill that hunger hole.

Back in my room, I anxiously search through the Dutch government's website, trying to work out what the current requirements for entry are. I'm pretty sure that while they advise that you get a test, it isn't required. At least that's how I interpret it. Very stressful.

I attack the cachaça, seeking relief. There's still a whole lot of it left when sleep comes a knocking.



Restaurante Rancho da Ilha
Mercado Público - Rua Jerônimo Coelho, 60 Box 37S
Centro, Florianópolis - SC,

Bayer Bier - Centro
R. Anita Garibaldi, 93
Centro, Florianópolis - SC,



Monday, 6 December 2021

In the city

No need to rise early. So I don't. It's just after 9:30 when I finally wander down. The breakfast room is pretty much empty. Just one other punter. Not someone from the contest.

Daringly, I give some of the cheese a try. And the ham stuff. The thrill of the unknown.

The orange cheese is pretty tasteless. Doesn't have much in the way of texture, either. I've not been missing much. I feel the fruit working its magic. Or perhaps that's just a fart coalescing in my gut.

With a couple of hours to kill before checkout, I head for a quick tour of the beach. The second I step onto it someone cries out:

"Hello Ron"

It's the woman who organised the Blumenau competition last year. We chat for a while. Until I need to go and pack.

Not that packing takes too long. I haven't a huge amount of stuff. Just clothes and a laptop. And the leftover hotel cachaça.

After checking out I'm offered a beer by one of the other judges hanging around the lobby. From the remnants of the sponsor's. No Bock, so I make do with a Black Princess Gold. When will I get another chance?

One of the Brazilian judges offers me a lift into town. Not going to say no. In daylight, it's clear how hilly the island is. Hilly enough to be untouched by agriculture or housing. Very green.

I've not seen Florianopolis proper. Other than a few fleeting glimpses as my taxi rushed past on Saturday night. As we skirt along the coast, it looks pretty highrisey.

Having lived in Florianopolis, my driver knows the hotel and quickly navigates his way there. Checking in is a doddle and I'm soon in my room. Very nice it is, too. Though with rather too many beds for my needs. In addition to a big double, there's a double sofa bed and a single. 

Not wanting to waste time wandering around, I check Google maps for a nearby restaurant. Something selling Brazilian stuff. I'm not going to waste my time on pizza or Chinese food. I find something suitable looking just around the corner. Called Restaurante Cota e Carioca da Gema, which is a bit of a mouthful.

The street leading down to the restaurant is scarily steep for a Dutch resident like me. I'm really not used to hills. Especially steep ones. I don't fancy climbing back up it.

There's a chav behind the counter about my age. He doesn't speak any English. Disappearing off to the kitchen, he returns with the young person who can speak English. Obviously the chef. Who explains what they have. I go for the pork option. And a can of Skol.

It must be after peak time as one of the staff is getting stuck into a meal in a corner at the back.

I wanted Brazilian and that's what I got. Double carbs, black beans and stuff (I can't remember the name) that someone described to me as bacon-flavoured sand. I get the sandy texture, but not the bacon flavour. It's fine mixed up with the beans and rice.

It certainly filled a hole. Good values, too, at a shade under 3.50 euros. After leaving, I snap the outside of the building. The old bloke comes out and enrolls the specials banner he'd just taken down. Very friendly, these Brazilians.

It's a bit disorientating being on my own after days of always being in company. And having my time scheduled. What to do? Maybe look at the sights.

Further down the street I'm on is the central market. I've heard it's good. So I roll on down. The street is very low-rise - mostly one or two stories. And lined with small, independent shops. Including some pretty weird ones. Like Rei do MDF - King of MDF.

The market is impressive. But most seems to be given over to restaurants. I don't linger and head over to the cathedral and its square.

Wow. That's an impressive fucking tree. And there's a depressing barefoot homeless man kipping on that bench.

I wander back to my hotel. Avoiding any too steep inclines.

I made a search of beery places in the city before I left Holland. The breweries all seemed to be either on the mainland or well out of the centre.I could get a taxi somewhere, but I'd prefer not to. Somewhere within walking distance would be so much simpler. 

Another search kicks up somewhere just a few minutes away. That'll do. It doesn't open until 6 PM. Time for some wandering around the internet. And working my way through that cheap cachaça. I wouldn't want to have to leave any.

Though not far away, Infinito is down an even more scarily steep street. One which I don't think I'll be able to avoid on the way home.

I'm the first customer in. They fetch the English speaker to explain everything to me.

"I'm behind the bar. If you need anything, just come and ask."

I pick a seat on the veranda and gave out over the adjacent empty lot. The sun is gently sinking and the light softening. Samba music plays, while I get stick into my IPA. Served in a bizarre 473 ml measure. It's pleasantly grapefruity and slips down without much trouble.

A waitress comes up and asks if I'd like another beer, touching my shoulder. You'd never have that in Amsterdam, the staff making physical contact with a stranger. Obviously, I want another beer,

For the first 40 minutes, I'm on my own. Then people start turning up in matching t-shirts. I've been in groups like that while down here. But they keep trolling up in their green shirts. Soon totally filling the pub.

The same song is being played over and over. Is this some sort of political rally?*

Just as well I've already got a couple of beers down. A couple of hundred political activists are now between me and another beer. Paying, too, after being driven insane by the same song being played 10 drillion tines. Not being so up on Brazilian politics, I have no idea who they support. 

I force my way to the bar and ask the English-speaking lass for a refill and the bill. She points me to another part of the bar and I wait around there for a while. No luck paying, for some reason. I retreat to my seat.

I manage to grab a passing waitress. "Pagar?" No problem. I can escape.

I would have ordered a small meal. No way I was doing that after the mobbing. So I leave a little peckish. 


The monster hill doesn't leave me as wheezing as I'd feared. This climate is doing my lungs a power of good. And at the top I find a little corner place open. Where I get myself  a sandwich and a bag of crisps. That'll do.

It's cheap cachaça easing me down the slope to sleep tonight.


* It was the election for the bar association of Santa Catharina state they were celebrating. With the first woman being elected president.

Restaurante Cota e Carioca da Gema
R. Conselheiro Mafra, 594
Centro, Florianópolis - SC,

Infinito - Cervejaria Criativa
R. Henrique Valgas, 318
Centro, Florianópolis - SC,

Lanchonete Café No Blue
R. Felipe Schmidt, 720
Centro, Florianópolis - SC,

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Last judging

"What will we be judging today? We already awarded medals yesterday." I ask Gordon over breakfast.

"Not all the categories have been judged yet."

My hopes of a short day dashed, I tuck back into breakfast. The eggy sausage fruit thing I'm now totally committed to.

I've been down early enough to be ready for the scheduled departure of the bus at 8:20. I should really have caught on by now. It leaves closer to 9:00.

I sit next to Jan Koch, who brews at a brewpub in Hamburg. I'd been surprised a couple of days earlier when he spoke to me in fluent Dutch. Not what you'd expect of someone living in Hamburg.

It turns out he'd worked in Holland. Including a place where my wife worked. Though they were in different departments and their paths didn't cross. Still weird.

He complains about how late the bus back to the hotel was yesterday. It turns out I was one of one of the lucky ones. I assumed that the minibus would have continued to ferry people back. It didn't. After my trip it fucked off. Everyone else had to wait for all the judging to be done. Which was after 8 PM.

I'm on a table with Ludmilla again. This time captained by Tibor, who has  a beer pub in Munich. Just the three of us.

Tibor is using the same system as Gordon, more or less. Which has us zipping through the beers. I'm dreading a couple of the flights. Vienna Lager, for a start. And home brewed Catharina Sours.

The Viennas are as expected. Almost all riddled with faults. Except for the only decent one I judged on the first day.

In contrast the Catharina Sours are the best set I've had in the whole competition. 8 out of 10 good. Some very good indeed. It restore my faith a little.

We rattle along so smoothly that, even judging one of the flights meant for the afternoon, we're still pretty early for lunch. Again up on the rooftop. It's pretty much the same buffet fare as the other days.

Tibor rocks us through the afternoon flights. So quickly, that we get an extra flight. Even after that, we're one of the first tables done.

I'm going to be judging Best of Show. Meaning I have to hang around until all the other tables have finished. Jan does, too. He mentions that he had a quick swim and a beer at lunchtime. Just 50 metres away. I wondered why his shorts were wet after lunch. I didn't like to say anything in case he'd pissed himself.

A couple of tables clearly have a way to go.

"Fancy nipping to the beach?" I suggest. "Some fresh air would be much nicer than staring at a blank wall."

He doesn't need asking twice. Soon we're settled down on the beach. Almost deserted and quite lovely.

It feels like I'm on holiday for the first time since Sunday. So I get myself a cachaca as well. I nice big, thick one.

Jan asked another judge to call him when they were ready to start. Which he does. It only takes a couple of minutes to get back. We've had maybe 30 minutes on the beach, but it's really chilled me out. And got me ready to make big decisions.

There are two rounds to Best of Show. Each table of six judges gets 15 beers or so and has to put through three. There's a lively discussion on our table to whittle down the possibilities. We manage to come to a consensus without too much pain.

While we're discussing one of the Brazilian judges, possibly a shade older than me, mentions that he's a musician. Quite sell known in Brazil, it seems.

When we've made our choice, I nip off to the bog for a quick slash. On my return, I notice that I 've been chosen to be on the final panel. That's what happens when your name is in the BJCP guidelines. Gordon has already left, flying back to get home for Thanksgiving. The sneaky bastard.

It's pretty obvious to me which the winner is. To most of the other judges, too. There are only really two beers in contention. A quick show of hands confirms the winner as a Catharina Sour. With passion fruit and dragon fruit. The aroma is amazing. I could just sniff it all day.

It's late, but not stupid late. Not even 8 PM. There should still be some food left for us.

Tonight it's Feijoada, a traditional Brazilian stew. Not that I'm feeling that hungry.

A samba band is playing and most of the Brazilians are dancing. It appears the band recognised the musician judge and have invited him to join in. He sits in, singing and playing, for three or four songs. He clearly knows what he's doing.

I'm not tempted by the dance floor. A couple of decades back, I'd have been up like a shot. But my dancing days are behind me. I'm happy now just to watch and tap my foot.

I chat with fellow judge Thomas Sjøberg about beer history stuff. Drinking more Black Princess beer.

It's been a long and tiring day. Other than the quick beach interlude. I don't need to be up particularly early tomorrow. But I still go quite early to my bed. I need to preserve my energy. I'm not a young man anymore. 

Gentleman Bowmore has deserted me. This time it's cachaca giving me the final push into temporary oblivion.

The organisers of the Brasil Beer Cup paid for my accommodation and food during the period of judging (four nights and three days) Beer, too, which was provided by one of the sponsors. I had to pay for my own cocktails. And all other expenses, such as flights and extra hotel nights.

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Let's Brew - 1881 Whitbread PA

Just realised that I didn't publish a recipe on Wednesday. For the first time in many years. Apologies for that. I got carried away with Brazil.

The original Pale Ale brewed at Chiswell Street back in the 1860s was, rather unimaginatively, called simply Pale Ale. It was a beer Whitbread would brew for a very long time.

In terms of gravity, it’s very similar in strength to other top-class pale Ales, such as Barclay Perkins PA and Fullers IPA. Not really surprising, as they were competing in the same market.

The recipe is quite similar, too, consisting of around 80% base malt and 20% sugar. No adjuncts. That was a continuing theme with Whitbread, other than in wartime.

Three types of English hops were employed, one from the 1880 harvest and two from 1881. All pretty fresh, as you would expect in an expensive, hop-accented beer like this. And rather a lot of them. I’ve guessed Fuggles and Goldings for the varieties.

The bitterness level – and the FG – would have fallen by the time it was served. This was a Stock Pale, destined fir extensive ageing, probably at least 9 months. 

1881 Whitbread PA
pale malt 9.25 lb 80.43%
No. 1 invert sugar 2.25 lb 19.57%
Fuggles 90 mins 2.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 2.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 2.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1057
FG 1015
ABV 5.56
Apparent attenuation 73.68%
IBU 94
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 57º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Friday, 3 December 2021

More judging

Ever the optimist, I'm up early and down for breakfast well before 8 AM.

I join Gordon again. And exactly the same egg/sausage/fruit combo as the previous mornings. How boring am I?

We're asked to head for the bus before 9 AM. We're not allowed on straight away. Leaving time for some idle chatter. Like what the hell is that weird fruit hanging from the tree next to the bus? It looks like a 1930s football.

We ask one of the Brazilians what it id. She has no idea. Another says she's pretty sure it isn't edible. No-one knows its name

We get to the judging hotel about on schedule. We're underway after not too long.

The beers come out exactly when required. Not the case everywhere. I've had to wait 20 to 30 minutes for each flight. Really annoying and dispiriting.

They've made a big effort to have a good balance of male and female judges. Great idea. I'll just say that in passing.

Today I'm on Gordon's table. Dead pleased about that. Not just for the chat. But because I know has lots of experience at this sort of thing. He won't allow any hanging around. His table finished first yesterday.

Sure enough, he has a much better system worked out. Makes the process much quicker.

A word about judging, for those who've never judged. It's way less fun than it sounds. Mostly.

You're going to have to drink some bad beer. If you're, unlucky, some really bad beer. That's just how it is. Some brewers, inexplicably submit quite old samples. I'm sure a lot is damaged in transit. Which, depending on where the judging is performed, can be a complex process.

On the upside, you get to discuss beer all day with fellow nerds. Some judges can have very expressive faces when sampling beers. Especially ones they hate. That look of just having taken a slug of battery acid laced with cyanide. I'm a member of that club. I've almost spat out particularly disgusting beers. None that bad this time, luckily.

Other humans can also be a downside. Argumentative, opinionated, pedantic and pig-headed are the characteristics you want to avoid around the table. I'm guilty of at least three. (Possibly five. I'd forgotten arrogant.)

The exact mechanics vary at each contest. But the approach I've seen most is to eliminate the obviously faulty beers first. Oxidation, DMS, diacetyl are the main problems. Even my leather nose can pick them out easily enough.

Next to go are any that are way out of style, no matter how good a beer it is. Like an English Dark Mild that's been hopped with bucketloads of the latest trendy high-alpha varieties, matured in Islay barrels for two years with Brettanomyces and finally bottled with champagne yeast. It might be a great beer, but it's in the wrong fucking category.

Finally, you get to argue about what's left. If you're unlucky, most of the flight will be faultless and to style. A nightmare if there are 8 or 9 quite similar beers. And when arguments can ensue.

The worst rows, however, flare when there's a big split in opinion about a beer. Especially if  two argumentative, opinionated, pedantic and pig-headed judges face off against each other. It doesn't happen that much. Most of the time. judges are in broad agreement. Diametrically opposite opinions don't pop up often. The process would be torture if it did.

I can't claim total innocence of this sin. But I have learnt from my mistakes and grown. As I person. Not getting drawn into that shit again.

Gordon has worked his magic and we're some of the first done with morning flights.

Lunch today is in the rooftop restaurant. With a view over the sea. Very scenic. I get first crack at the nosh, too. 

[Perhaps I would have done better to photograph the lovely view rather than my beige food.]

I get all the food groups: beef, pork and chicken. Note that I go for just a small portion of a single carb.

I've some time after gobbling down my grub. And drop by the supermarket over the road. To check out their cachaca selection. For the kids, obviously.

Disappointing, to be honest, the selection. Just the cheap one in the 931 ml bottle. I grab one just as emergency hotel drink. In case there's a big emergency. Like I've drunk the Bowmore too quickly.

On my way to the till I notice a display of glasses. Hey, that's just what I need. Yesterday, I nicked a flimsy plastic cup from the coffee corner. But that bugger split and I almost dribbled Bowmore all over my laptop. Now I'll be able to drink my whisky like a gentleman.

We start dishing out medals in the afternoon. Without a great deal of disagreement. At a decent pace.

A minibus takes the early finishers back to the hotel we're staying at. So early, I can unwind in my room before dinner.

When I get downstairs Gordon and a few other judges are drinking cocktails at the bar.

"That's a good idea. I haven't had a caipirinha yet."

So that's what I get. Makes a change from beer.

There's a barbecue at the end of the garden. Just before the beach. It's blowing a gale. Scarily windy. Which isn't doing the cooks any favours.

I eat a few skewers of meat and one of cheese. Big lumps of this white stuff. No idea what type it is. Barbecues up nicely. 

People keep bringing me bottles of beer. Black Princess Gold. One of the ones we're getting for free.It's OK, when cold enough.

Someone unwisely asks me about oak flavour in 19th-century IPA. It's a good hour before I pause for breath. 

Not a late one, again. 

A gentlemanly Bowmore, from a glass, gently rubs my temples and soothes me to slumber.

The organisers of the Brasil Beer Cup paid for my accommodation and food during the period of judging (four nights and three days) Beer, too, which was provided by one of the sponsors. I had to pay for my own cocktails. And all other expenses, such as flights and extra hotel nights.


Thursday, 2 December 2021

Judging begins

Like a good boy, I'm in the breakfast room well before 8. Spotting Gordon, I join him at his table.

"The bus is delayed until 9." is how he greets me.

Great. I could have had another 40 minutes in bed. At least I won't have to rush my food. The same as yesterday. Warm stuff then fruit. I quite quickly pick up habits. Usually bad ones.

9 o'clock comes and goes with no sign of a bus.It's more than 30 minutes more before we board. We're going to be behind before we even start.

Judging is at another hotel at a different resort. It's further away than I expected.

Perhaps I should explain what I'm doing here. I've been invited to be one of the judges for the Brasil Beer Cup, a competition for Brazilian beers. I accepted, despite Dolores's quite reasonable objections, because I really wanted to travel again. If I wait for everything to really get back to normal, how long will that be? Also, I really enjoyed Brazil the first time I visited.

Eventually I find my place. On a table right at the back.I sit down and pour myself a glass of water. It's well after ten and nothing is happening. This is a bit goring. I start flicking through the style guidelines the competition- - the ones from the Brewers' Association. 

My god, these are out of date. Like the BJCP ones from 20 years ago. I'm tempted to start scribbling corrections to while away the time. But where to start?

Gordon and I discussed the new set of BJCP guidelines he's editing. Would I take a look at them? Of course. At just the right moment he comes over with a printed copy.Something to pass the time while we sit around aimlessly. I've no idea why we haven't started.

The BJCP styles have greatly improved over the last two editions. There's nothing much to raise my blood pressure. Just a few little things. But, as there are a fuck of a lot of styles nowadays, it does take me some time. That's totally ignoring all the American ones, about which I know little.

When noon comes, things finally get going. With an introduction where several people give speeches in Portuguese which are then repeated in English, not usually by the same person. Not a quick process.

It's well into the time scheduled for lunch when the first beers hit the table. At last we can get on with this.

As captain of my table, it's my job to keep things moving. There are supposed to be four of us on the table. But Eduardo has to leave before judging a single beer. That leaves me, Marina and Ludmilla,  both Brazilians. The percentage of local judges is higher than at the other South American contests I've judged. The current COVID shit is probably the reason for that. 

The first set is Vienna Lager. Nine beers. Six are about the colour of Pils. All but one has some sort of fault. That's disappointing. We're supposed to put three through to the next round. There's only one serving. But we have to put through three. It's the rules.

We have lunch with only a third of the beers scheduled for the morning judged. It's going to be a late one. Most of the other judges have already eaten, leaving the buffet rather sparse.

The next flights of beer are generally better. Though some are modern hoppy styles with lots of fruit flavours to mask any underlying nastiness.

I'm struggling a bit with the hardware and software of the tablet used to input our judgements. After some taking of the computer god's name in vain, I eventually sort of get the hang of it.

When the scheduled finish time of 6 PM rolls around, we've still several flights to finish. When we're finally done, it's long after 8. Then there's a wait for the last straggles to stumble over the finishing line. I'm totally knacked.

It must be at 9 PM when the bus drops us off where we'll be eating - Kairós Cervejaria. It's one of the breweries on the island. They're barbecuing outside. To be honest, I'm feeling past eating. So go up into the brewery for liquid sustenance.

In the form of Sol Poente, a West Coast IPA. Pleasantly fruity, is how I'd describe it. And a refreshing 7% ABV.

I'm tempted into eating one of the fat sausages. It's fat in both senses of the word. I suspect it's one of the Blumenau sausages I've heard about. Not sure how healthy it is. Tastes good, mind.

A minibus takes back the exhausted amongst the judges. Including me. While the more hardy examples wait for the big bus. I've only had one and a half beers. That's how tired I am.

A slug of Bowmore gives me the final push down the hill to slumber. Have to be up early again tomorrow.

Kairós Cervejaria
Estr. Cristóvão Machado de Campos,
2741 - Vargem Grande,
Florianópolis - SC,

The organisers of the Brasil Beer Cup paid for my accommodation and food during the period of judging (four nights and three days) Beer, too, which was provided by one of the sponsors. I had to pay for my own cocktails. And all other expenses, such as flights and extra hotel nights.

Wednesday, 1 December 2021


I'm in no rush to rise. Breakfast is until ten. Not much point in getting up before 9. or 9:15. Teeth brushed, kit on and I'm ready to go. Takes 10 minutes, tops. 

Despite there being plenty of noise coming from the hotel bar yesterday, I wasn't even vaguely tempted. Just too exhausted. Surprisingly sensible for me.

I don't recognise anyone in the breakfast room. Not that I had expected to. Everyone else arrives today. There are omelettes, scrambled eggs and some chopped up sausage things. That'll do. I make sure to eat a decent amount of fruit, too. I'll be needing all the vitamins I can get.

Logistics dictated that I arrive a day before things kick off. It's no bad thing. I have most of the day to laze about. What could I possibly do? Oh, there is that beach there. And according to Google Maps there are a couple of bars, too.

It's only 50 metres from the hotel. Very pleasant it is, too. Sunny, but not too hot. Plus a bit of a breeze. After walking up and down it for a bit, I'm getting this funny feeling in my throat. I know what it is, I'm thirsty. What could I drink to sate it? Maybe a beer would work.

I sit in the shade outside a pub and gaze towards he sea. I ask the waiter for a beer. "Which one?" he reels  off a few names I don't recognise, other than Skol and I don't fancy that. Original? That sounds good. I'll have one of them.

It comes, as is usual here, in a cooler jacket. The thing is all sealed up, preventing me from having a look at the label. Drinkable enough when chilled and consumed on a lovely beach.

As midday approaches, it gets busier at the pub. Many join me in a beer or two. You know what? Why don't I treat myself to a cachaca. Not had one since Andrew glugged down most of the ones I brought back from my last Brazil trip.

This is an excellent way of working off yesterday's stress. A couple of beers and cachacas in and I'm relaxed enough for a quick nap. I nip back to my room.

I wander back to the beach. Feeling a bit peckish, I grab a seat inside. The same beach-side bar. I order a beer and peruse the menu. This is taking me back. It's only in Portuguese. It's like when I first travelled to Germany, before I'd learnt the language. Often I had little idea what I was ordering.

I'm pretty sure that I order some sort of fish. With rice and some other stuff. I'm sure it will be fine.

The entertainment is around a corner and I can't see the musicians from where I sit. I did spot them on the way in. A singer with an acoustic guitar, accompanied by an electric bassist. Playing some sort of samba. It fits very well with the mood.

Mostly right, is how I'd judge my food guesses. Indeed there's fish and rice. Plus salad, chips and a mug of black beans Bit heavy on the carbs, maybe.

People have started singing along and dancing. It's two in the afternoon. And all rather fun. Some of the dancers must be at least as old as me. You'll not get me up there. It would be way too embarrassing.

I don't stay too long, despite grooving on down to the music. There's supposed to be a judges' orientation at four.

After loitering in my room a while I wander downstairs. Not a sign of any fucker. I wait another 40 minutes in my room. Still not a sign of anyone in the public areas. Maybe they're in the garden. 

Can't see anyone here, either. Oh look - there's Gordon (Strong) on the beach. With what I assume are some other judges. And they have beer.

We sip as the sun sets. Black Princess, which appears to be the main sponsor. Their branding is everywhere. A pretty nondescript Pils. The setting makes it so much better.

After the sun has gone, we trail inside to eat. And drink more beer. My evening is made when I discover there's a Black Princess Bock.  That's much more to my taste. More than acceptable. Especially if I'm not paying. 

It's nice to have a chance to chat with Gordon. He asks if I'll take a look at the new BJCP style guidelines. Sometime in the next few days. Sure.

Not leaving it too late, mind. The bus to the judging location leaves at 8:20 sharp. At least that's what the organisers claim. I'll need to be up just after 7, if I want time for breakfast. Which I do. It'll be a long day.

A little Bowmore gets the dreams rolling in more quickly.


Bar do Lua
R. Clorinda Ventimiglia,
180 - Cachoeira do Bom Jesus,
Florianópolis - SC,



The organisers of the Brasil Beer Cup paid for my accommodation and food during the period of judging (four nights and three days) Beer, too, which was provided by one of the sponsors. I had to pay for my own cocktails. And all other expenses, such as flights and extra hotel nights.

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Brazil again

"You're crazy." Is what Dolores told me when I mentioned visiting Brazil. 

Which is exactly what she told me before me last long trip. To Thailand in March 2020. "You're crazy." She said. But I got back OK. It was mostly fine.

Nonetheless, I was more anxious before flying. Did I have all the right pieces of fucking paper indicating I was fit to fly? Would the lounge be serving whisky? Stressful shit.

After more than 18 months, I'm out of pratice with the whole airport palaver. Especially all the walking. So much of it.

Not knowing what to expect, I turn up at Schiphol more than two hours before departure. Just to be on the safe side. And to make sure I've time for as few drinks before boarding. Even if it is only 9 AM.

I while away the 12 hours cooped up in a tin can wearing a mask by watching films. Anything light and not too vomit-inducing. I have some success. Even the bad ones eat away at the hours.

Almost four hours I have to connect in Sao Paolo. A couple of bad experiences have taught me to err on the side of caution for the sake of my heart. I'm not going to have to rush around an airport if I don't need to.

Immigration is quite a walk from the aircraft. And none of the moving walkways are working. Just what I need after half a day aching my arse off.

They aren't interested in seeing anything but my passport. A disappointment, after all the fucking around getting hold of all the documents had entailed.  (They were all thoroughly checked in Schiphol.)

It's all pretty quick. I leave terminal 3, with all my luggage 45 minutes after touching down. Still loads of time.

LATAM check in is a bit of a walk. It looks pretty chaotic. Which queue should I join.

I'm not sure I pick the right one. I think it's for people with special needs. Not sure I'm quite enough of an old bastard to qualify for that yet. Each customer is taking for ever. And only one agent is helping.

The general queue seems to be rattling along at a decent rate. With three or four agents working it. I switch to that, even though it's longer.

After a few minutes, I realise my new queue has stopped moving. There's just one agent left. Where the hell did all the others go? Either all the cases are really difficult, or he's dead slow. What the fuck is he doing now? Why has he gone to the self checkin machines? 

The blokes in front of me are getting very jumpy. I think their gates are getting ready to close. This is exactly why I left so much time between flights.

After complaining to a wandering member of the airline staff, the anxious blokes in front of me have be hurried off somewhere. Hopefully not to a firing squad. But my turn next. Looking back at my old queue, I see several people who were behind me have been served.

The couple being processed have a pile of bags. And two Yorkshire terriers. Fuck and double fuck. I saw earlier how long it took to check in just one dog.

A huge discussion ensues which seems to concern the type of bag being used to house the dogs. It takes forever.

Finally, I'm being done. Except the agent is struggling a bit withe the label printer.After some fiddling, he prints a bag label and attaches it weirdly. Then has a think and rips it off again. Another couple of labels are printed, looked at and discarded. A fourth is somewhat insecure looking manner and my bag dispatched to the bowels of the airport. I don't feel confident about seeing it again anytime soon.

That's taken me over 90 minutes. My legs are numb from all the standing. I suppose a long walk to the gate will at least get my blood moving.

Security painlessly passed, I search for directions to my gate. It's to the left. Second gate listed. Will I miss a long walk for once?

Will I hell. It may be one of the first gates. But it's a long trek just to get to the first. When I plonk my sorry arse down it's 15 minutes until boarding. I planned on a couple of hours watching stuff on my laptop. Out of principle, I open it up and fire up an episode of Al Murray's new TV thing.

About minutes worth is what I have time for. In the boarding group 6 and get on pretty late. Still room in the overhead for my rucksack, luckily.

It's fully and the seats are pretty close together. When the twat in the seat in front of me the moment the wheels leave the tarmac, there's my chance of using my laptop gone. I squint at Private Eye, instead.

No onboard service of any sort.Though we're only in the air 40-45 minutes. Just as well, given how much my arse is aching due to the restricted legroom.

Florianopolis airport is nice and compact. No long walks here. I wait anxiously at the luggage carousel. I'm not feeling very confident. Bags trickle out and are whisked away. But not mine. I'm not very confident it was labelled correctly.

The crowd is thinning out. How much of a disaster will it be if it doesn't turn up?All it contains are clothes. And my whisky. I can do without my clothes tonight but not that so much.

Just when I'm thinking about how much hassle it will be to get my bag if it's gone missing, it pops out. Thank fuck for that. I've been travelling for the best part of a day. Now I just need to find a taxi.

There's an office where you can buy a taxi voucher. It's closed. Not because it's late. Oh, no. Because they're working from home. You have to ring them up and get something sent to your phone. I do have a phone with me. Not sure how the fuck I'd use it.

Instead I walk to the rank. I point at the hotel address I have printed out and ask "How much" He doesn't speak any English but says what I take to mean 100 to 120 reals in Portuguese. About 20 euros. It is a long, way, right at the other end of the island.

The best part of an hour has passed when we trundle up to the hotel. It's been a long day and I'm relieved to get here.

Of course my fucking key card doesn't work. I get the bloke on the desk to reset it. Still doesn't work and I get a new one. That was extra fuss I could have done without.

I reckon it's 20 hours since I walked out of my house this morning. Was it this morning? Or yesterday? I'm too knacked to know for sure.

Time for a quick hotel whisky to knock me out. I picked up a bottle of  Bowmoer in Schiphol duty free. Now where's a glass?

There are none. I have to swig straight from the bottle like a savage.

I hope tomorrow is less stressful.



The organisers of the Brasil Beer Cup paid for my accommodation and food during the period of judging (four nights and three days) Beer, too, which was provided by one of the sponsors. I had to pay for my own cocktails. And all other expenses, such as flights and extra hotel nights.

Monday, 29 November 2021

London Semi-Stock Pale Ale 1880 - 1899

More pointless style descriptions from a book I probably won't finish for at least another couple of years. If ever.

Slightly weaker than full-strength PA is what I’m calling Semi-Stock Pale Ale. That was a real thing, being a weaker type aged for only 3 months rather than the 12 months of the stock version.  I’m not sure if that was really the case with these beers. It’s a convenient label rather than anything else.

Whatever you call it, this type of beer was the second-class type of Pale ale. Around 5º lower in gravity than the first-class type. As you would expect, the alcohol content is also lower, by about 0.5% ABV.

Even more scaled-down is the hopping. Down 13% in terms of per quarter (336 lbs) per quarter and 22% per barrel. It’s safe to assume that the bitterness levels would have been lower.  You’ll find this confirmed in the recipe section. For example, I calculated Barclays PA 75 IBU and XLK 56 IBU. 

London Semi-Stock Pale Ale 1880 - 1899
Year Brewer Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
1886 Barclay Perkins XLK 1053.0 1011.1 5.55 79.09% 10.08 2.21
1900 Barclay Perkins XLK 1053.5 1012.5 5.43 76.70% 10.00 2.16
1887 Fullers XK 1057.1 1016.1 5.42 71.84% 11.58 2.84
1897 Fullers XK 1054.8 1015.5 5.20 71.72% 13.39 3.27
1890 Whitbread 2PA 1054.6 1011.0 5.76 79.84% 10.79 2.78
1890 Whitbread 2PA 1055.4 1010.0 6.01 81.95% 11.69 2.99
1895 Whitbread 2PA 1052.9 1012.0 5.41 77.32% 11.94 2.82
  Average   1054.5 1012.6 5.54 76.92% 11.35 2.73
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/1/593, ACC/2305/1/584.
Fullers brewing records held at the brewery.
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/055, LMA/4453/D/01/056, LMA/4453/D/01/061.

Sunday, 28 November 2021

The cost of malting

When looking at Heineken;'s brewing records from the 1930s and 1940s, I was struck by the quantity of darker malts that they used. In their dark beers, obviously.

Each contained three types: kleurmout, broeimout (a type of caramel malt) and caramelmout. And the base was possibly donkermout rather than pilsner malt. Unfortunately, that isn't totally clear in the records.

As with everything else, the cost of malting was strictly regulated during the war. The price varied considerably, depending on the type of malt. With the darkest types costing more than double pilsner malt. Which makes perfect sense, as the darker kilning would use more energy and hence cost more.

You can see the prices here.

The cost of malting per 100 kg of barley
type price (f)
lichtmout (pale malt) 3.79
donker mout (dark malt) 4.04
caramelmout (caramel malt) 7.90
kleurmout (colour malt) 9.16
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 23rd April 1942, held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document number 31121-1, page 51.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Let's Brew - 1881 Whitbread FA

In 1865, Whitbread brewed up their first regular Pale Ale in Chiswell Street. It was followed in 1872 by a weaker version, wittily called “Family Ale”.

It was a deliberately lighter beer, intended for the domestic trade rather than pubs. That is, beer meant to be consumed at home with meals. Which is why it was one of Whitbread’s early bottled beers.

To modern eyes it might look like a Strong Bitter. A quick comparison with Whitbread’s Milds reveals that it was more like a 19th-century Session Ale. The high degree of attenuation achieved after primary fermentation indicates to me that this was a Running Beer, meant to be consumed no more than a couple of weeks after brewing.

Don’t expect any big surprises in the recipe. Whitbread’s Ales were all just base malt and sugar in the 1880s.

Fairly fresh English hops, from the 1880 and 1881 harvest graced the kettle. Who knows what the dry hops were, though I’m certain that they would have been present. Whitbread never did bother noting them in their brewing records.

1881 Whitbread FA
pale malt 9.25 lb 86.05%
No. 1 invert sugar 1.50 lb 13.95%
Fuggles 120 mins 3.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 3.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1051
FG 1007
ABV 5.82
Apparent attenuation 86.27%
IBU 84
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Friday, 26 November 2021

The Wehrmacht asks for more beer

In August 1942 the German authorities announced that an extra 25,000 hl of beer per year would be delivered to the Wehrmacht in Holland. I say "announced". Demanded was more like it. It's not as if Dutch brewers could refuse.

Dutch brewers wanted to provide as much beer for the general population as in 1939. Which was around 1.5 million hl. That might sound pretty reasonable. Until you take into account the fall in gravities since the German occupation. 

Also, the Germans often demanded "heavy" beer for their troops. Which basically meant Pils. Breweries were only allowed to have a certain percentage of their production in this category. Meaning the locals would have to put up mostly with the watery versions of Lagerbier. By late 1942, that type of beer was just 1.4% ABV. Kinderbier, as Dolores would call it.

Purely in volume terms, Germans consumed a third of all the beer brewed in Holland. Which is totally out of proportion compared to their numbers compared to the local civilian population.

Talking of the numbers of Germans, these figures give an insight into exactly what they were. Assuming that German military personnel were still getting a ration of 9 litres of beer per month, I calculate that there were around a quarter of a million of them.

Proposed beer distribution in Holland in late 1942
group (hl) no. Germans
civilian population 1,500,000  
Wehrmacht 225,000              208,333
Waffen SS 25,000                23,148
other Germans in uniform 25,000                23,148
military visits to pubs and other compulsory deliveries 475,000  
total 2,250,000             254,630
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 9th September 1942, held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document number 31121-1, page 42.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Heineken Pils and Whitbread PA hopping rate across WW II

More WW II comparisons. This time looking at the hopping rates. Which gives a very different view from the gravity.

Despite being pretty much exactly the same strength, pre-war there was a big difference in the hopping of Heineken Pils and Whitbread PA. The rate of the latter being around 50% higher. But while the hopping was reduced at Whitbread, it was increased at Heineken.With the result that in the middle of the war the gap between the two narrowed to almost nothing.

Weirdest is the situation in early 1943, when Heineken suddenly started hopping far more heavily. Supply of hops doesn't seem to have been a problem for the Dutch during the war. With supplies from Germany being maintained. Unlike barley, there always seem to have been plenty of hops knocking around on the Continent.

Once the war was over, Heineken's hopping was a little bit higher than it had been in 1939. While Whitbread's was a little lower.

Heineken Pils and Whitbread PA hopping rate (lbs per quarter of malt) across WW II
  Dec 1939 Nov 1940 Jan 1941 Jul 1941 Sep 1941 Jun 1942 Jan 1943     Oct 1949
Heineken Pils 4.49 4.49 4.49 5.06 5.50 5.84 10.43     5.00
  Sep 1939 Nov 1940 Feb 1941 Jul 1941 Oct 1941 Jun 1942 Apr 1943 Feb 1944 Apr 1945 Oct 1949
Whitbread PA 7.33 7.14 6.54 5.62 5.62 6.03 6.03 6.13 6.03 6.36
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/107, LMA/4453/D/01/108, LMA/4453/D/01/109, LMA/4453/D/01/110, LMA/4453/D/01/111, LMA/4453/D/01/112 and LMA/4453/D/01/117.
Heineken brewing records held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document numbers 834 - 1759, 834 - 1760 and 834 - 1761.